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Human Rights Violations

On July 13th, at a Tamarindo Board meeting, I reported that I had received information that further arrests of our students in our community of Guarjila were doubtful. The very next day at 3:30 am, a police/military raid was made on Guarjila and 10 young men were taken from their homes and now are in federal prisons, accused of acts of terrorism against the state.

That morning soldiers surrounded the home of Marvin Rodriguez and his brother Duglas. Marvin is just about to finish high school, one of the coordinators of Tamarindo micro-business initiatives and bound for college on a Tamarindo Cortina scholarship. His brother Duglas is a third year engineering student, Cortina scholar and an active member of Tamarindo community programs. The soldiers stormed into their home startling Mila (their mom) and their little sister. The soldiers said that they were going to “take away the men of the house”. They then proceeded to wreck the house while searching for evidence of being a gang member, which never existed. While their little sister screamed and held onto Marvin’s leg he was dragged out of the house and taken away. Marvin is now sitting in the violent Mariona Prison. His brother Duglas was not sleeping at the house that night and was forced to flee to a safe location. He only wants to continue his education, and take care of his mom and sister. He cries for his brother, gone for what could be 25 years. He said, “Now it’s a crime to be a kid in El Salvador.”

The very next day I went to visit Bishop Oswaldo Escobar Aguilar. I told him of the events of Guarjila on July 14, of our captured and pursued students. I told him about Johnny, a recipient of a Tamarindo micro-business loan, who now is in jail as are the other 20 arrested in our community. No trial. No hearing. No defense. No visitation allowed.

I also shared the fear and terror of our people and their cry for the church to support them in this most difficult time for our community. Then we prayed, and cried and Bishop Oswaldo said, “Guiliano let’s be with our people”. He then asked me to gather all the families of Guarjila to the church on Monday July 25. He asked that I invite all the institutional leaders that work in the community and the legal team of the Institute for Human Rights of the Jesuit University (IDHUCA). Our bishop hopes to comfort our families, listen to their stories and be pastor and church to a community in agony. The lawyers will take testimonies. For having this gathering on Monday we could all face arrest as the current state has made the right to assembly a crime.

I want you to know that our “crime” of being church is what our vocation as Catholics and Tamarindo are all about. We have made contact with the United States Congress, the United States Embassy in El Salvador, the Jesuit Curia in Rome, and friends all over the world informing them of our support for our bishop and the people of Guarjila.

Now we ask you for your prayers and support. May God hear the cry of the poor.

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